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Report on Fuego (Guatemala) — August 2001


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 26, no. 8 (August 2001)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Fuego (Guatemala) Seismic activity during April and December, eruption in September 2000

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2001. Report on Fuego (Guatemala) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 26:8. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200108-342090



14.473°N, 90.88°W; summit elev. 3763 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Ash venting began at Fuego on 5 April 2000, followed by increased ash emissions and strong seismic signals during 7 and 8 April, according to the Guatemala Volcano Observatory and the Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH) of Guatemala. On 8 April at 0215 a hot spot was visible in multi-spectral imagery. More hot spots were occasionally noted but there were no further reports of ash.

A news article from La Hora reported that a column of ash reached 1 km on 29 August 2000. According to the Guatemala Volcano Observatory, an eruption beginning on 6 September emitted an ash-and-steam plume that reached ~800 m. On 21 September a large amount of ash was emitted, blanketing nearby communities. Authorities considered evacuating residents and issued an Orange Alert for the area near the volcano.

Satellite imagery on 7 December showed an ash plume to the SW of the summit, extending 39 km and 11 km wide. According to ground observations the ash was centered at ~4.9 km elevation. INSIVUMEH reported that the volcano was producing loud rumbling sounds and a more significant eruption was likely. On 9 December 2000 satellite imagery confirmed a small eruption at about 1645. The eruption sent an ash cloud to ~4.5 km altitude, near the summit level. The ash cloud was initially dense, about 8 km wide, and drifted W and NW. By 2345, the cloud had dissipated and was no longer visible on satellite imagery. Occasional strong hot spots were visible on GOES-8 multi-spectral imagery throughout the day. That evening, volcanologists in Guatemala indicated that the volcano had become increasingly unstable with several explosions occurring within a few hours. Since then, no major activity has occurred.

Geological Summary. Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is also one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between Fuego and Acatenango to the north. Construction of Meseta dates back to about 230,000 years and continued until the late Pleistocene or early Holocene. Collapse of Meseta may have produced the massive Escuintla debris-avalanche deposit, which extends about 50 km onto the Pacific coastal plain. Growth of the modern Fuego volcano followed, continuing the southward migration of volcanism that began at the mostly andesitic Acatenango. Eruptions at Fuego have become more mafic with time, and most historical activity has produced basaltic rocks. Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows.

Information Contacts: Otoniel Matías and Eddie Sánchez, Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH), Ministero de Communicaciones, Transporto, Obras Públicas y Vivienda, 7a. Av. 14-57, zona 13, Guatemala City 01013, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, NOAA Satellite Services Division, NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center, Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/); La Hora (URL: http://www.lahora.com.gt/).